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Archive for August, 2010

“I have not turned to the outline yet, other than letting it simmer on my brain.  I haven’t even returned to the research yet.  As the story and the main characters are loosely based on the historical record, I still have a lot to read and learn about the time.  I figure the more I know, the clearer the outline will become.  The plot can ride the actual timeline, just touching down when it needs to to create a credible alternative history.  But nothing is going to happen if I don’t get to work.”

These thoughts stumble around in my head while I tie my boots, check my pack, and fret about the broken compass, which will surely spell trouble down the road.

I sit down and pick up the journal again. There are still a few hours till daybreak.

“I’ve been trying my best to stick to my daily writing goal.  Using the Bernays and Painter book, “What If?”, I’ve been doing writing exercises.  This morning I got up and did two sun salutations to warm up my body and then went out to the desk for a first sentence exercise: to write a first sentence in the middle of things.

My favorite effort:

‘His shoes were covered in mud and when he put his foot through our television, I was dismayed by the brown splatters left on the broken glass.’

My least favorite:

‘Leaves fell outside our bedroom window, and with a wide, lazy smile, my wife told me she was fucking my brother.’

I like the first one because it shows how the narrator is slightly off and conveys some interesting action.  I want to know what’s going on that scene.  I don’t like the second one because it doesn’t do anything interesting.  The setup is kind of good – especially the ‘wide, lazy smile’ – but that’s about it.”

Pulling the writing time out of the day has been easy during the week.  I just get up a little earlier and I have the place to myself for an hour or so.  Over the weekend it is impossible.  Well, not impossible, but challenging.  And I don’t try hard enough.  Last weekend, we left town and had to babysit three cubs, none over the age of ten, so I slept in both days until they woke us up.

But all I can do is keep going.  The answer is in the pages I write on the road.

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